mexican casserole

6    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
35 to 40 minutes

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mexican casserole

I’m busy reading the new issue of Saveur, which is entirely devoted to Mexico, at the same time as I’m eating my world-famous (ha!) Mexican casserole. Yes, yes, it’s a dish I’ve written about many times, but every year I feel I have to remind you, old-timers and newcomers, about the joys of Mexican casserole. It’s my fallback recipe, my what-to-make-when-I-can’t-think-of-anything-to-make, the solution to a thousand times when I’ve been at a loss for what to have for dinner. Even though it’s utterly Californian and very 1960s, I was totally satisfied eating it while reading about pambazos, frijol con puerco, caldo de res, chiles en nogado and the other regional dishes featured in those magazine photos next to my plate. As soon as I can get to the groceria for guajillo chiles and queso Oaxaca, I will make pambazos and maybe some of you will, too. In the meantime, I’ll make Mexican Casserole. Think of it as the insides of the best burrito you’ve ever eaten, but made in one pan. Like all great recipes, it’s even better the next day reheated with a fried egg on top and a tortilla underneath.


2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped (use 1/2 onion if huge)
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 can (15-ounces) chopped tomatoes (see note)
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese


In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan or ovenproof skillet with a lid, heat the oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the meat and cook until browned and crumbly (drain fat if desired).
Stir in the chili powder and a good pinch of salt.

Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, rice, and 3/4 can (from tomato can) of water. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes, then turn off heat and sprinkle cheese over top of casserole. Place pan under a broiler and cook until cheese is melted and a little crusty.

note: you can also bake this in the oven. To do so, preheat oven to 350° and when you have added all the ingredients to pan and brought it to a boil, cover and transfer it to the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and proceed with cheese as directed above.